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Category: Life Culture

Promoting Life One Berry at a Time

March 29, 2022

“We live and promote a life culture within the womb, the home, and our ecological environment.”

Promote: (verb) To further the progress of something. To support or actively encourage.

I am a promoter of raspberries. I’ve never thought of it that way before, but looking back on the past two decades of my life, the evidence is convincing. Here’s the story:

We bought our first home in 2000. We had one young child and another on the way. A few years and another baby later, we planted five raspberry plants along our fence on one side of our yard. The plants had been gifted to us from our nextdoor neighbor, whose parents were thinning their raspberries patch and wanted to share the joy.

I need to pause here and explain something. When I say raspberry “plants” it’s easy to imagine leafy bushes, but what it really means is that we planted sticks (called canes) with tiny roots. That’s how raspberries have to start.

We tended our little raspberry plants, as well as our little children, which now numbered 4. We delighted together in discovering the bright red berries that appeared each year. We also weeded again and again, pruned back the plants each fall, and learned how to pull out the old canes so the new ones could have the space to grow and bear fruit. Over time the roots spread and the five original plants expanded to fiill the entire fence line. The fruits of the season came in bowl-fulls not just handfuls. The “raspberry patch” as the children fondly called it, became the home to a large toad, aptly named Toaday, who both startled and delighted the children as he kept appearing year after year. The raspberry patch became a part of their childhood. So much so, that when we moved from that home in 2011, we had to dig up a dozen raspberry plants to take with us.

And by plants, I mean sticks. We had to start over with growing a raspberry patch. But we knew it would be worth it.

We were only in that home for a couple years, just enough time to add one last child to our family and to nurture, weed, and delight in the fruits of our labors with our transplanted raspberries. In 2013 when we felt the call to move again, we packed up five children and a dozen raspberry plants and drove across the United States to plant our family and our raspberries in a new home we had never even seen.

And by plants, I mean sticks. We had to start over. Again.

Those plants found their place along another beautiful fence line, and just like in the original home, as we have nurtured, pruned, and weeded them, they have filled in to make a wonderful raspberry patch. Though there are no toads this time, our children have picked raspberries every year with each other, cousins, friends, and neighbors. We have made fruit salads, desserts, smoothies, and jam from those raspberries. And we have made memories together as a family.

Four of our five children are already adults, and as they talk about their future homes, a raspberry patch is always included as a necessary feature. “I can’t imagine life without raspberry plants!” our daughter Brooke recently exclaimed. Without knowing it, we promoted a culture of raspberries with our children. We also created a culture of gardening, enjoying time outside together, making and eating healthy food, caring for things that matter to us, working together, connecting with the earth, sharing the fruits of our labors with others, and having persistence. We were really growing a family, not just raspberries.

It started, and restarted, with those special “sticks.” It took time and effort, but that vision, commitment, and persistence made our little fence line of the world better, one berry at a time.